Losing Dion Lewis has proved to be an issue for the New England Patriots. The team should look to sign veteran Pierre Thomas to fill in as the receiving back.
Last week, the New England Patriots played their closest game of the season. The Giants have always played the Patriots well, with New York head coach Tom Coughlin seemingly having more success against Bill Belichick than anyone else. While this helps explain the narrow victory over the Giants, the one dimension the Patriots lost going into this game was a strong receiving back.
As an aging back who is now 30-years-old, and only lasted a week with the struggling San Francisco 49ers, people may wonder why the Pats would ever touch him. The answer is in the box score last against the Giants. The Patriots backs combined for 3 catches for 17 yards against the Giants.
In Lewis’s worst receiving game this season he recorded 3 catches for 18 yards. In this offense, receiving backs are important for opening up the rest of the field. The two guys that need to step up are James White and Brandon Bolden, and they are not getting the job done.
White has the talent for the role, but he has proved very little on the field. It also seems as if White does not have the trust of Tom Brady, which can quickly mean bad things for his career with the Patriots.
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Bolden is the more proven receiving back on the Patriots’ offense, and has had some success in the past before losing looks to Shane Vereen. With Vereen gone and Lewis out, Bolden needs to step up for Brady and the Patriots.
Bolden may be more limited athletically, Brady clearly has more trust in Bolden than White. Both these players may very well be fighting for this job against the Bills. If neither deliver, I expect Thomas to be signed as he worked out for the Patriots prior to the Giants’ game.
Thomas has the passing down skill-set that the Patriots lost when Lewis was lost to injury. With Thomas available and not having many suitors, the Patriots can afford to give White and Bolden a second look after another week of practice. While 30-years-old, Thomas was always sharing time in New Orleans.
The most carries he’s had in a season is 147, in 2009 and 2013. Thomas has 327 career receptions and seen time in big games with the Saints. Thomas is much more of a sure thing as a receiving back than either White or Bolden and he comes at a discount.
The Patriots always have the most success when they have a strong and reliable receiving back in their arsenal. Thomas’ skills may not be what they once were, but he is a proven player who is undoubtedly worth a look. There is nothing to lose, and so much to gain for the Patriots to sign Thomas. The time to act is now.